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Melanesian Messenger Online distributed by the
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The resurrected Christ Living in us
 
MELANESIAN MESSENGER 070406-1
April 6, 2007

Easter reflection by The Rt Rev. Dr. Terry Brown, Senior Bishop and Bishop of Malaita Diocese

[Melanesian Messenger - Melanesia] One morning, walking down to Auki's Saturday morning market, we passed one of the town's well known street preachers, eloquently preaching on St. Paul's affirmation of the crucified and resurrected life in Jesus Christ: "I have been crucified with Christ - and so it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:19-20).

It stuck me forcibly that this is a wonderful affirmation of the life of the faithful Christian it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me -and a support, guide, comfort and challenge in all the complicated situations we face.

Through our ongoing faith in Jesus Christ - the Word of God made flesh Incarnate, Crucified, Resurrected, Ascended, Glorified - Christ is to come to life through and within our presence to others, our self-sacrifice, our triumph over sin and death, our life with Christ in prayer, our r eflection of the glory of God - such that we should be able to say, with St. Paul, that it is not I that live, but Christ that lives in me.

First, of course, the Christ that lives in me, by his example, is Jesus of Nazareth, walking the roads of Galilee, preaching the Gospel of divine love, healing the sick, casting out demons, feeding the hungry, offering forgiveness to sinners, condemning injustice and corruption, proclaiming that the Kingdom of God has arrived. We seek that loving and compassionate character of Jesus of Nazareth to live in us though our own words, deeds and relationships.

But in the end, just to follow the human example of Jesus would ultimately be limited by sin and death. Without the grace and power of Christ's Resurrection and his gift of the Holy Spirit, just trying to follow Jesus of Nazareth's human example would end in failure.

Christ living in us as an ongoing and powerful reality is impossible without the Resurrection of Christ. In this Paschal season we mark God's divine intervention and empowerment in raising his broken and crucified Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to new life on Easter morning.

Thus, Christ living in us is not just the divine human being Jesus of Nazareth, but also the resurrected Jesus Christ, raised beyond his particular human circumstances, raised beyond the confines of culture, religion, time and space, to a new Risen Life.

We are all baptized into Christ's death and resurrection. Through our Baptisms and ongoing Christian faith (including active participation in the sacraments of the Church) the crucified and risen Christ comes to live in us. Our own special personal needs, privileges, powers, eccentricities, loves, hatreds, identities, cultures, prides, weaknesses, sins, etc, etc. diminish and disappear - they no long live, rather, it is Christ that lives in me, as we take on His new life.

If our Christian faith and lifestyle is genuine, people should be able to see the crucified and resurrected Christ within us, not just our cranky, prideful, eccentric, uncontrollable and sinful selves. People should see the fruits of the Spirit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

The Resurrected Christ living in us enables us to reach beyond our human prejudices and needs, to cross cultures, not to fear death, to take risks for the Gospel, to leave our comfortable circumstances for the uncomfortable, to make friends with the outcast and sinner, to say "no" to corruption and the immoral "shortcut".

And the Resurrected Christ, living in us, empowers us, such that our lives become a triumph over sin and death. The Resurrected Christ imparts the Holy Spirit. The Resurrected Christ addresses the disciples on the evening of Easter Day: "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. . . Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:21-22). That Spirit enables Christ to live powerfully and effectively within ourselves.

So in this Easter season, thorough our openness to God and to transformation by the Holy Spirit, let us again crucify all that is sinful in our lives, and through our faith in Christ and our participation in the life of the Church, make room for the crucified and resurrected Christ to live in us, so that with St. Paul, we too may say, it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.